1947

Plans were begun for the 1947 season almost immediately with a league meeting held in Mayfield on October 20, 1946. Central City, KY asked for consideration for membership, but there were no vacancies anticipated when all eight cities indicated their intention to compete in the upcoming season. The members voted to raise the salary limits to $1800 per month. This would alleviate the dependency for parent teams to option players down to the Kitty Leaguer teams during the season. When the players were optioned the parent team continued to pay a portion to the salary up to $100 per month. The team with the best working agreement had the advantage as far as obtaining the best players at the lowest price to the local organization. Most felt an increase in the salary limits would bring better players under contract to the league members.

By early January, Union City announced the signing of a working agreement with Burlington, Iowa, of the Central Association. Burlington was a farm team of the Cleveland Indians, and all indications were additional financial help would be made available especially for any player called up from Union City. Contracts had been offered to almost all the players who finished the 46 season with the Greyhounds. This put them in much better shape than the previous year when there were no players signed at the start of spring training.

Tom Elam was again elected to be club president. Sam Nailling was vice president, H. P. Moss, business manager/secretary/treasurer, and other directors were Cecil Moss, Dixon Williams, Buzz Tanner, and Andy Anderson. These men began looking for a field manager to lead the club. Under consideration was Paul O'Dea, a favorite of the Cleveland club, Johnny Antonelli, the former Union City manager and a member of the Philadelphia Phillies team in 1945-46; Hugh Holiday the Fulton Chicks manager of a year ago; and Eddie O'Connell, fired as manager of the Mayfield Browns the previous year. Johnny Gill was hired early on to manage the Fulton Chicks in 1947.

In another meeting in February it was decided the league season would begin on May 6 and end 126 games later on September 1.The league membership passed a resolution to create a player money pool to be paid to the participants in the year end playoffs. The money was to be divided with the teams finishing the highest getting the higher percentage of the pool, thereby providing incentive to finish as high as possible. The pool was created by a collection of one cent from each adult paid admission during the season. The cash was sent to league headquarters each month. Decisions were also made regarding the type baseball to be used as the official game ball-Goldsmith, and the all-stars would be voted by managers and official scorers. Attendees in addition to the directors were Lou Wrather of WENK radio station and Richard Cox Sports Editor of the Union City Daily Messenger and official scorer.

In February the Greyhounds reached agreement with Steve Bysco to manage the team. Bysco was a veteran of 22 years in professional baseball. He had managed the Burlington team the previous year and had also managed Tallahassee in the Florida State League for three years. His teams had never finished out of first division. A right handed pitcher, he had pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1929 and later won 29 games for the Tallahassee team in recent years. Meanwhile Mayfield signed Shan Deniston a west coast player in the Pacific Coast League and former manager of Anaheim in 1942, to lead the Browns. Deniston was coaching the Pepperdine College team when he was talked into moving to Mayfield by Austin Acree the club president.

Off season repairs to Turner Memorial Field included work on the grandstand, additional lights, and new bleacher seats to accommodate another 1000 fans. Again Turner Field was one of the finest minor league parks in the country. Box seats for the 1947 season were raised to $10 for the season.

It became apparent the Greyhounds were to receive needed help from the Cleveland Indian farm system in 1947. By the end of March the Union City team had signed or been assigned 31 players to report to spring training. Among them were Jerry Majercek a second baseman destined to be one of the best Greyhounds ever, and Hal Pfeiffer a first baseman of note. The Indians also planned a tryout camp for April . The camp was limited to players living in a 100 mile radius and included nearby talent like Gene Roberts and Joe Patton of Hickman; Dave Prather, Woodland Mills; Gerald McDaniel, Union City; J. B. Fulcher, Fulton; and Ralph Brawner, McKensie. Brawner was signed by the Indians and began a career that would cover many summers in professional baseball.

Prior to the beginning of spring training the local club appealed to the citizens of Union City to come forward with spare rooms for rent. The number of Greyhounds coming to town was putting a cramp in the available space. The Burlington team was also going to take spring training at Turner Field and they had filled the local hotels with one half the team at the Davy Crockett Hotel and one half at the Palace Hotel. The citizens came through with more offers than were needed.

The directors of the club announced a bus schedule worked out with the Dunlap Bus Co. of Martin, and the Newsome Bus Co. of Union City to run routes through Hickman, Tiptonville, Samburg, Hornbeak, Troy, and Martin to bring fans to the games and return them home afterwards. Since new bleachers had been added at the park, a general admission price of ten cents per game was placed on the grandstand seats not otherwise in the reserved sections. The bleacher seats on the first and third baselines were included in the admission to the game. It was noted that one could spend ten cents for each of the 63 home games and be out $6.30, or for only $3.70 more buy a $10 season box seat. As an indication of remaining hard times, generally there were more fans in the bleachers than in the grandstand. Another promotion featured the re-introduction of "Puppy Tickets", available to any youth under the age of 12. The "Puppy Ticket" was a card made out in the young person's name, selling for $2.50 and allowing entry to all home games-perhaps one of the best values in the history of baseball. Still some kids used their ticket to enter, then went to a corner of the park to toss the card over the fence to a friend, who then repeated the procedure. "Slipping-in" was a part of growing up and a significant part of the juvenile delinquency problem of the era. When passing the puppy ticket did not work, youngsters tried "coming over the fence", either at the outfield or behind the grandstand.

The Union City Greyhounds of 1947 opened the season with their arch rival, the Fulton Chicks before a crowd of nearly 2000. The team was young, inexperienced for the most part, but talented according to manager Bysco. It included Bob Sepanek, Ralph Brawner, and late reporting Pete Burnette in the outfield. Hal Pfeiffer first base; Jerry Majercek, second base; Johnny Kustick, shortstop; Bill Hause, thirdbase; Bill Wilson and Harry Paul, catchers; and pitchers, Jimmy Alsup, Dutch Neuman, Jimmy Ladd, Paul Lange, and manager Steve Bysco. Neuman had come to the Greyhounds the year before in a trade from Madisonville. He was a popular player among the fans, and was referred to as the "old fireman" by the radio announcers due to his frequent and effective relief pitching efforts. By the end of one week the team was 2-5 in last place. At the end of May they were 12-12 in 4th place and had picked up two new players in Bob Horner, outfield and Johnny Johns, catcher.

Johnny Gill quit the Fulton manager job in early June and was replaced by Fred Biggs from the Memphis Chicks. Gill landed the manager job at Clarksville by mid-June, and Union City picked up another good outfielder in Chuck Traeger. However, by the end of June Union City was in 7th place at 26-30 while Owensboro was in their accustomed spot atop the standings. Steve Bysco was released as manager.

It was reported that Bysco was let go because of discontent among the "paying public". In a letter printed in the Union City Daily Messenger, Bysco blasted the club directors for "firing" him, and said the problem was with only three directors who were concerned because his contract called for a substantial bonus if he made it through the season without buying more than 50 dozen baseballs, and if the team drew at least 50,000 fans. With the season not half over the team had reported attendance of 30,000. He promptly was appointed to manage the Tallahassee team in the Cleveland chain, and Harold "Dutch" Hoffman came to Union City from the Pacific Coast League.

At the All-star break the Greyhounds were still in seventh place. The All-star team consisted of Jerry Majercek, who had acquired the nickname of "the Mighty Mite", and "Pistol" Pete Burnette of Union City, manager Shan Deniston, Mayfield; Lawson Williams, firstbase, Mayfield; Bob Prouix, third, Madisonville; Frank Scalzi, ss, Hopkinsville; Johnny Pruitt, utility, Clarksville; Johnny Gill, of, Clarksville; Pete Peterson, of, Fulton; catchers, Frank Zabik, Madisonville, and Newt Secrest, Hopkinsville; and pitchers Johnny Hobbs and Dave Thicke, Cairo, and Guy Brill of Mayfield. The Owensboro team beat the All-stars 11-7.

The "Clown Prince of Baseball", Johnny Price, put on an exhibition prior to a game in Union City during July. Price had broken into baseball with the '35 Greyhounds as a better than average minor leaguer out of the sandlots of Memphis. He had started perfecting his act about that same time so he might have a backup if he was unable to make it as a player. By 1947 he was devoting full-time to the trick-filled shows in the employ of the Cleveland Indians. His act included hanging by his feet and hitting pitched balls to all parts of the field. He also had a skit on twenty ways to not hit a baseball, including hitting pitches with the tip end of the bat, between his legs, behind his back, and nearly every other way one could imagine. He was able to throw up two balls and hit one to the outfield and the other to a catcher standing behind him. He caught fly balls in his shirt and in his trousers. One part of his show had him chase down and catch fly balls in a jeep. He had recently been the subject of a movie short subject, narrated by Pete Smith. The turnout was over 2900 the night he performed.

First half statistics released by the league showed the Owensboro manager, Earl Browne, leading the league in hitting with an average of .454. Browne had hit .437 in 1946 to lead all minor league hitters. Jerry Majercek was second in the league with .410. Other Union City players and their averages were Pete Burnette, .325; Bob Horner, .307; Ralph Brawner, .305; and short stop Kustich, .291. However, the end of July found Union City still mired in seventh place, and the rest of the season did not get any better.

The season ended in this order:

Owensboro 77-48

Mayfield 72-52

Hopkinsville 69-56

Madisonville 69-56

Fulton 68-56

Cairo 52-73

Union City 51-74

Clarksville 40-83

In the last home game of the season, Dutch Neuman pitched a two hitter in front of 1700 fans. It was indicative of the support the loyal fans provided all season. Following the regular season and while other teams were involved in a playoff that eventually saw Hopkinsville prevail over Owensboro, and go on to defeat Madisonville for the league championship, the Greyhounds played three more games against a team of local semi-pros managed by Red Armstrong. The Greyhounds won all three and drew an additional 2700 paid customers.

Final statistics on paid attendance showed Union City second behind Owensboro. Union City with a population of about 8,000 citizens drew over 58,000 fans. Owensboro, a city of about 50,000 people drew 87,000.Fulton drew 36,000, while Cairo and Clarksville took the first steps toward a failing franchise with 21,000 and 28,000 respectively. Although the numbers were small, K. P. Dalton declared the Fulton team to be financially sound with a cash surplus of $7,000, after spending $1000 on new uniforms and $1000 for a bus. Fulton also announced the end of their agreement with Memphis Chicks.